The Mission's Regional Vision page:

Silver Street Mission

...what are the needs around us?


 Abandoned Growth Area --
The Devil's Triangle
 EARLY IN 1998, the Baptist Union of NSW requested informal discussions about the future of Sydney's Inner Western/Inner Southern churches. Peter Green plotted on a map a "primary mission area" for the churches closest to the city. This "primary mission area" was defined by a 1km radius from the location of each church. That is an easy range for most people to walk to church. >>

 This left a large triangle of Sydney without Baptist outreach. Apart from Waterloo Christian Life Centre (at the apex of the triangle) and some Catholic churches, there was little Christian effort there at all. Peter dubbed it "The Devil's Triangle", because the Churches seemed to have left it to Satan.

 It is one of Sydney's growth areas, covering the new Green Square and Alexandria residential redevelopments, as well as established residential areas around Botany.

  Think about the struggling inner suburban churches, when such a vast area is untouched by the gospel. These churches are no longer failing relics of a long gone suburban petit bourgeoisie. They are under-equipped, demoralised front-line troops resisting Satan's dividing action.

 Silver Street Mission is anxious to begin working in this area!

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Inner Ring Suburbs
 THE MISSION HAS discussed the lack of Baptist work in "The Devil's Triangle", that wedge made up of South Sydney and Botany Local Government Areas together with parts of surrounding LGAs. Few churches are active here, and Baptists are unrepresented. >>    The accompanying diagram shows the Inner Ring suburbs of Sydney (Schematic only).
Some years ago, a Planner at Leichhardt Council introduced the concept of "Inner Ring Suburbs" into the Planning vocabulary for Sydney. He argued that the Local Government Areas closest to Sydney share characteristics distinguishing them from both the inner city and the outlying suburbs.

§ Good access to the CBD
§ Poor quality housing stock.
§ High density living

We could add to that picture:

§ Struggling churches and large areas of spiritual neglect.

 These characteristics include:

§ Low income levels
§ High NESB representation
§ Mixture of residential and industrial  uses
§ Established services often inappropriate to current needs

 A number of local Pastors have been consulting, and Peter Green has gathered information about these areas and the issues they face. The accompanying diagram shows that "neglected area."

  The crosses mark existing Baptist Churches. 

 Baptist Church memberships in the surrounding areas range from under 12 at Banksia and Marrickville to about 200 at Central Baptist.

 The smaller churches are predominantly in the Inner Ring Local Government Areas.

 Petersham and Marrickville Churches have progressed furthest in seeking solutions to the identified problems, which include --

§ Struggling existing congregations
§ High maintenance costs on properties


§ Limited resources for ministry
§ Lack of penetration into untouched areas.

 Some suggest amalgamation of Inner Ring churches into a single large congregation. However this would mean the loss of valuable ministries in the various localities.

 One Pastor suggested a second model, of closer association between the Inner Ring churches, and some sharing of resources without any formal union.

 Another Pastor faces different problems. Their buildings are generally in good condition and require little maintenance. But the members are not very mobile. Few own cars. The age of the members has been a limiting factor in the Church's ministries in recent years.

 A third pastor has also expressed an interest in closer association with other Baptist Churches, but notes their difficulties in that very few members live in the area because of high housing costs.

 On the other hand, the key Calvinistic Baptist Church in the area, which already attracts people from a regional catchment, finds little to attract it in either an amalgamation or an association model.

 One solution discussed in the Mission's Meetings was formation of a regional church with branch congregations in existing centres such as Leichhardt and Marrickville, but relying more on community facilities than on owning buildings. In this model, existing pastors would retain oversight of their congregations, but would also participate in a combined team.

 Members would still attend to local affairs, but the regional church could also call on participating congregations to share in larger projects, and there would probably have to be some funds equalisation scheme.

 By way of contrast, the Association scheme, while offering some advantages of sharing equipment and perhaps producing common materials, would not solve the problems of decaying buildings, small congregations etc. However, such a group of churches could use the same promotional materials or produce a common newsletter; one could become a clearing house for information for all; pastors could meet for support and encouragement.

 A mixed model is also possible, where some churches choose to combine, but others, while not choosing that route, may still wish to be in an association-type relationship with the combining churches.

 Some of the issues to take into account are:
1. What are the advantages of the different models? Will they --

 § permit better use of resources?
 § reduce pressure to maintain the status quo and increase the ability to respond to 
    local and regional demands?

 § maintain existing valuable ministries?
 § enable us to serve others in their areas of lack?

2. Can we do whatever we propose without violating important Baptist principles?
3. Would such changes be feasible, given the setting we find ourselves in?

 Nothing has been determined yet; but it is an issue for constant and pointed prayer and much earnest thought.

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Looking Ahead

 WE HAVE DISCUSSED outreach into Alexandria, but the project has lain in abeyance until now.
 Tom Sitompul indicates that the Indonesian congregation would also be interested in reaching out to this neglected area. There is potential for an effective work if we work together, using the combined skills of both groups.

 The two pastors travelled into the area, and looked at the potential. There will be an influx of population into the southern end of Mitchell Street from early 1999, with some further tailing out up almost to Erskineville.
 We looked at potential sites to begin a ministry, and two have been identified initially, but enquiries will be needed before we can say with certainty that either would work. Please pray for our wisdom!

 If we can formulate a viable proposal, we could approach the Baptist Union for some funding, if needed, to get the project underway.
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 All design and contents (c) Peter R Green 2001